rich drug dealers

Forgetting How To Be, Reclaiming How To Breathe

I met with my counselor the other day, a semi-famous mega-church pastor here in town, and I had really forgotten what it’s like to be around someone who is so comfortable with himself that it made me comfortable with myself.

My counselor is one of those cool pastors who smokes cigars and uses dirty words and he used to be a rich drug dealer, so he owns this huge house and hosts these extravagant church parties with hundreds of curious people looking for real spirituality. He does this without even really trying to impress anyone, and with sort of a wink. Once I was leaving his office after a meet and he yells down the hallway of his church, “I’ll keep praying about your porn problem.” The very conservative staff glanced at me and I ran and he couldn’t stop laughing.  My counselor reminds me of Jesus.

So I told him everything. How I blew up on someone the other day. How I was juggling multiple ministries plus a growing blog.  How dissatisfied I was with the mainstream church.  How I haven’t talked to my dad in over a year.  How I was fighting anger and unforgiveness and lust. How I always felt like I was pouring out of an empty cup, and that the same grace I preached for others was almost never reserved for myself.

I told him I had this monster inside me, barely underneath the surface just coiled around my guts, and just when I thought I was making “Christian progress” and it was dead, it would lash out and destroy everything I love and then go right back to hiding.  I wanted this thing inside me to really, truly, eternally die.

Then he looks at me and says, “You’re not really walking with God.”
I was almost offended.  But he was right.  He went on.

“You’re doing so much, just do, and you lost who you are.  You find who you are, then you can do again.”

“So what do I do now?”  As soon as I said it, I heard it.  I said “do” again.
He said, “Pray.  I mean we’re both in ministry, you already know that.  But you see how we’re talking?  How you can tell me anything?  How I can just be me around you?  That’s prayer.  Praying is like breathing.  It’s a way of life that can happen all the time.  That’s walking with Him.”

I think I was trying not to weep. I remember when it was like that, when I felt like I was walking with Him all the time. When being with God was like breathing. I did want that again. And it was not a matter of doing, but being.

He said, “It’s okay to pour out when you’re empty. You can’t do that for a long time, but that’s grace. You can preach grace all day and be a legalist to yourself.  Quit listening to yourself and listen to Him. And don’t preach too far ahead of yourself. If it’s been hard, then preach that it’s been hard.”

We hugged for a long time. He told me he loved me. Before we parted, he said, “I wish I could tear that monster out of you.  Let God inside, and He will.”

— J.S.